November 4

National Basketball Association season opens

Not all is peaches and cream on the league's labor front, but no strike or lockout appears likely to disrupt the NBA's 49th season. The Houston Rockets, with 1993-94 Most Valuable Player Hakeem Olajuwon, begin defense of their first league title.

November 5

The Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens

For the eighth year, the beauty of horses racing over natural fences comes to Pine Mountain, Ga., home of the third leg of the million-dollar Sport of Kings Challenge. The event, free of parimutuel betting, is part of a series designed to link horsemen on both sides of the Atlantic.

November 6

New York City Marathon

What began in 1970 as a run around Central Park celebrates its silver anniversary a month after the death of race founder and director Fred Lebow. The race passes through all five New York boroughs and is a tribute to what Lebow called ``the power of human cooperation.''

November 9 and 12

`Ice Wars'

Eight of the sport's biggest names - Kerrigan, Baiul, Boitano, Witt, Yamaguchi, et al. - square off in a Team USA versus The World figure-skating challenge. CBS is telecasting the two-installment event, the first night from Uniondale, N.Y., and the second from Providence, R.I.

November 14-20

Virginia Slims Championships (women's tennis)

This annual Madison Square Garden shootout applies the finishing touches to the 1994 season and the 20-year career of Martina Navratilova, who bows out as a regular tour player. Only the top 16 women compete. The men's year-end ATP Tour championship runs Nov. 15-21 in Frankfurt, Germany, with the best men's doubles team crowned in Jakarta, Indonesia, Nov. 23-27.

November 15-20

Gymnastics Team World Championships

Dortmund, Germany, hosts the sport's first team-only championship. Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarussian gymnasts are among the favorites. Dominique Dawes and Shannon Miller headline a strong United States women's squad.

November 18 and 20

Women's college soccer finals

The University of North Carolina has won the National Collegiate Athletic Association championship eight straight years, but this time - in Portland, Ore. - things could be different. Notre Dame ended UNC's winning streak with a tie at 92 games. Duke later handed North Carolina its first loss since 1990.

November 19

College football classics

Teams snap on their chin straps extra tight to battle fierce parochial rivals, often for the privilege of securing the Old Oaken Bucket or some such sentimental prize. The partial lineup includes Harvard-Yale, Ohio State-Michigan, and Alabama-Auburn. More choice matchups follow on Thanksgiving weekend.

November 25

Tip-Off Classic (men's college basketball)

As is now customary, two highly ranked programs hook up in Springfield, Mass., basketball's birthplace, for the start of the

college season.

This year's matchup pits defending champion Arkansas against a local favorite, the University of Massachusetts.

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